BY Ross von Metzke
September 17 2010 2:50 PM ET
A few years ago, when Nick Wauters was touring the gay film festival circuit with his short films Ryan’s Life and Neurotica, the idea of having a big-budget series of his own on network television seemed like a far-off fantasy. But Wauters kept plugging away, dipping his toe into mainstream TV first in 2006 by writing an episode of Medium and then as a writer for the science fiction series The 4400 and Eureka.
With Lost ending its six-season run in 2010, it became clear there was an opening for a high-end thriller with enough twists and turns to keep people on lockdown at the water cooler the morning after each episode. On the eve of The Event’s big Monday premiere, Wauters talks about comparisons to Lost and 24, whether we’ll see any gay characters on the show, and why this ride is beyond his wildest dreams.
The Advocate: The promos are everywhere, but for people who aren’t paying attention yet, how would you best describe The Event?
Wauters: The Event is really a high-octane conspiracy thriller about an everyday man, Jason Ritter, whose girlfriend disappears. He goes on a search to find her and in the process discovers that he and his girlfriend have been sucked into this giant conspiracy. The goal is to kind of give it a little bit of a Hitchcockian feel and work with the aspect of the reluctant hero. He’s not your Jack Bauer CIA agent. He’s someone who’s just a regular guy.
You created the show and you’re credited as co-executive producer. What is a typical day for you like on the set?
Well, our typical day is basically coming in pretty early because I created the show — we have a really fantastic writing staff, and most of our writers are executive producers or co-executive producers, they’re very high-level writers. Because I created the show, I get to spend a lot more time working on it every day. I usually come in early, prep for the day — most of the day is spent in the writers’ room, where we break stories and plan the next script. So we spend most of the day writing.
How much of the story have you pretty well mapped out?
Before we actually went into production, part of the development process, I spent a lot of time developing a bible for the show. The script was already written, and I did a rewrite, but most of the work during the development process was this bible. Going into it, I already had a lot of it figured out. Season 1, the steps are really well defined. We kind of know what the pieces of the rest of the story are going to be. So it’s mapped out in detail for season 1, but at the same time we keep an open mind. If a character suddenly takes us somewhere, we take a little detour and explore those surprising stories we hadn’t necessarily expected.
I know Lost and 24 inspired this show. With them off the air this season, is there added pressure for The Event to fill their shoes, or do you not think in those terms?
It’d hard not to think about because it’s discussed so much and because I get really involved in the online process and keeping in touch with our fans. Having been a fan of those shows, it’s definitely something that served as an inspiration. They were great shows that I loved. I think there’s room for it. Hopefully the people who got their weekly fix of serialized thrillers will want more this season, and I think we’re the only show that really has these elements this season, so it’s definitely added pressure, but NBC is behind us 100%, and they’ve been fantastic. For a show like this, you really want people to join the party and check out the first episode so we can continue making the show.